Have you heard? Real estate’s a digital game. In 2016, 51 percent of U.S. property buyers found their dream homes via the internet. Real estate agents came in second as a source of homes at 34 percent. So I toured the best real estate website designs and identified the key elements that make each of them work. I hand-picked real-world examples to illustrate each element. Ready? Let’s start our tour.
5 things you should copy from the best real estate website designs
Ease of use.
Lots of fresh, useful content.
Now, let’s look at each element one at a time.
1. Magnificent imagery
All the best real estate website designs feature high-quality, professional pictures of their properties. One design option that makes the most of these magnificent pictures is a carousel that alternates between a few images. This is a great way to pull casual browsers in quickly.
Your best or most recent listings should be above-the-fold (on the upper half of the page) so the viewer doesn’t have to scroll down to see them.
Websites with full-bleed pictures (images that “bleed” off the edges of the screen) look more professional and modern. This will help entice visitors to keep looking.
2. Ease of use
The average site visitor will spend only a few seconds deciding if they want to stay or click away from your home page. Many of the best real estate website designs keep visitors on their websites by including these elements:
A foolproof search tool
When it comes to a smooth user experience, one of the most important features is an easy-to-use search tool for your property listings. This is, after all, what brings shoppers to real estate websites. The best real estate website designs give house hunters an easy way to filter their listings — by number of bedrooms and bathrooms, price and amenities like pools.
This might seem obvious, but buyers want to know the neighborhood they’re moving into before they make the effort to go out and look at a property. Hire a copywriter to create descriptive copy for all the neighborhoods you service. You’ll be surprised how far some old-school sales talk goes with home buyers.
A way to contact you
Not all buyers are built the same. Everybody’s looking for something different. The best real estate website designs offer a contact form, so they can respond promptly to queries with links to appropriate listings. This is a great way to generate valuable leads.
A clear idea of what you want them to do
Calls to action (CTAs) are sales-driven phrases that should appear on any website trying to turn visitors into customers. By using words like “Get in touch!” or “Click to find out more,” you open the door for customers to make a decision they may have been on the fence about before. The benefits of this in real estate should be fairly clear.
The best real estate website designs include an “alert” feature that allows visitors to save specific search criteria so they can be notified when a new listing is added to the website. Also by having a “favorites” feature, visitors can shortlist their top picks. Both options typically require the visitor to share their email and/or signup and will increase your potential customer database. Your real estate website can be a sales machine and fill your pipeline with leads.
3. Responsive design
In case you missed it, 2014 was a tipping point for mobile devices. That’s when the number of global users navigating the web from mobile devices surpassed those using desktop computers. This is why the best real estate website designs are responsive. A responsive website can adapt to different screen sizes and look and work great on smartphones, tablets or desktop computers.
It’s important to understand that consumers use different types of devices for various tasks. When searching for information, for example, nearly 60 percent of consumers start their searches on their mobile devices.
4. Social proof
As a real estate company, your business depends on word-of-mouth advertising, recommendations and referrals. Marketers often use a very specific psychological phenomenon known as social proof, in order to influence potential clients. The idea is that people make assumptions based on the experiences of others, and then use those experience to make decisions themselves.
But make no mistake — adding anonymous, generic testimonials won’t go very far. Ask for your customers’ pictures and a detailed testimonial on why they would recommend your services.
5. Lots of fresh, useful content
Part of a great real estate website is a fresh design, constantly updated. One way to achieve this is by having a blog.
Informative real estate blog posts can range from tips on finding your first home to local housing market reports. This will position your company as a local expert, a go-to choice for prospective customers. Best of all, great content is also good for SEO (search engine optimization), improving your position in search rankings. And starting a blog isn’t all that difficult.
Let the best real estate website designs lead the way
To recap, my top takeaways from the best real estate website designs are:
- Make sure you have high-quality pictures of your properties and position them accordingly on your website.
- Keep visitors coming back by offering resources that will help them in the pursuit of their next dream home.
- Make it easy for house-hunters to use your website from a variety of devices — desktop, tablet or smartphone.
- Add testimonials from happy customers — we look to others to influence our decisions.
- Position yourself as a local expert by producing a steady stream of fresh, unique, useful content.
Whether you’re just starting a real estate website from scratch or improving the one you have, make an effort to integrate these features for steady growth in both leads and sales. Here’s to good sales!